Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk

By: Ginny Mahar

Dietary Compliance: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Almost-Paleo, Paleo, Low-Carb, Keto

This soup may not be much to look at – it’s a bit monochrome; but if you know Tom Kha Gai, you know that the taste is kaleidoscopic. Sweet and creamy with coconut milk, sour and aromatic with lime and lemongrass, spicy with fiery red chilies, and all brought to harmony by the salty base note of fish sauce. This one’s super easy to make at home and comes together in a flash for an easy, soul-brightening weeknight meal.

Tom Kha Gai (or Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk) uses some authentic Thai ingredients, which may be bad news for those of us living in little landlocked towns. The good news is that there are substitutions for these ingredients that can be found in any grocery store. And the even better news is that I have made this soup with both authentic Thai ingredients (like lime leaves) and with common substitutions (like lime zest) with little compromise in flavor. That’s rare in the world of recipes, but I feel it’s true in this case.

A Few Tom Kha Gai Making Tips:

Here’s some info about the thyroid-friendly nutrients in this dish:

5 from 4 votes

Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk

This flavorful soup doesn't require a long cooking time and comes together quickly for an easy weeknight meal. Dietary Compliance: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Almost-Paleo, Paleo, Low-Carb, Keto.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4


  • 2 lemongrassstalks or 2 tbsp. prepared lemongrass paste (sometimes available in the produce section, refrigerated), or zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 cups chicken brothpreferably homemade
  • 1 lb chicken breastboneless, skinless, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onionyellow, thinly sliced into 1-inch-long pieces
  • 2 cups crimini mushroomsthinly sliced
  • 5 lime leavesroughly torn, or zest of 1 lime
  • 1 [3-inch] piece galangal or fresh ginger rootcut into coins
  • 2 large roma tomatoes
  • 14 oz can coconut milk full fat
  • 2-4 tbsp. lime juicefresh squeezed, from 1 to 2 limes, or to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp. fish sauce**(see note) or to taste
  • sambal oelek, sriracha, or hot sauce to taste
  • 1 tsp. coconut sugarpacked
  • 2/3 cup cilantrofresh, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onionthinly sliced


  1. If using fresh lemon grass, cut lower half of stalk into 1-inch pieces, and discard tops.
  2. In a large (5 quart) pot bring chicken broth to a boil. Add lemongrass, chicken breast, onion, mushrooms, and lime leaves and galangal or ginger coins. If substituting lemon and/or lime zest, do not add yet . Reduce heat and let simmer 5 – 7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  3. To peel and seed the tomatoes: use a small paring knife to remove the stem from the tomatoes, and then cut an X in the skin on the opposite end of the tomatoes. Add to broth and let simmer 1 minute, or until skins have begun to split and peel away. Remove from broth and let rest until cool enough to handle. Remove skin (it should pull away easily). Cut in half and remove and discard seeds. Dice the tomato flesh into 1/4 inch cubes, and add back to soup.

  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, chili paste or hot sauce, and coconut sugar to soup. If substituting lemon and/or lime zest, add now. Stir to combine until soup is heated through* (see note). Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more fish sauce, lime juice, coconut sugar, or chilies as needed to reach the perfect salty/sour/sweet/spicy balance. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with fresh cilantro and green onion, and serve.

Recipe Notes

*Do not boil the soup once coconut milk is added. A low, brief simmer is fine, but boiling can separate the coconut milk, similar to heavy cream.

** Fish sauce is commonly available in the Asian section of most grocery stores, but if you need to substitute, use 1 tablespoon anchovy paste and 2–3 tablespoons tamari (GF soy sauce). Including tamari would reduce the dietary compliance of this recipe to gluten and dairy-free. 

Nutritional Info Print
Nutrition Facts
Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk
Amount Per Serving
Calories 376 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 19g95%
Cholesterol 72mg24%
Sodium 1595mg66%
Potassium 1223mg35%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 790IU16%
Vitamin C 32.3mg39%
Calcium 61mg6%
Iron 4.9mg27%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

About the Author

Thyroid Refresh Co-founder Ginny Mahar is the mom and recipe blogger formerly known as Hypothyroid Chef. After struggling with the residual symptoms of Hashimoto’s for over four years, she embarked on her own process of adopting a thyroid-specific diet and lifestyle. Within one year, she restored her vitality and lowered her thyroid antibodies by half. Ginny is a passionate advocate of supporting others on their journeys toward better health. She is a Cordon Bleu trained chef, cooking instructor, writer, and entrepreneur.